Tough stuff, those reviews. We authors had better have a tough skin when reading reviews of our books, yet there may be a better way to react to them than with our emotional selves. A great review such as the one on Amazon.com for my novel God’s Child: The Origin of Fear warms my heart and makes me glad that I put all that work into writing it.
I give it a rating of five stars because of its overall excellence. I found the book intriguing, a joy to read. Both of the two story lines–life in a remote Norwegian-American farm community during WWII and a baffling crime that takes place there–would have been fascinating on their own. But bringing them together increased the power of the tale immensely. An outstanding novel.
Yet the next reviewer gave it four stars because although he like the novel over-all very much, what he didn’t like were the descriptions of the games that the children played. He says:
. . . I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 because sometimes she writes too long explaining the games the children play and I found I had to skim that..but basically she writes very well and is informed as to the spartan life they led.
Should I listen to this second reviewer’s criticism? He makes a good point. People who were not raised in the rural Norwegian-American culture might get impatient with these explanations. Yet, those readers who came from a background similar to the protagonist Silje Reiersen might remember the games fondly because they, as children, played them too. As I wrote those passages, I consciously decided to leave the explanations in, trusting that readers would actually skim over them if they could not relate to them. Yet, I felt that readers who read the passages in their entirety might realize that much of the personalities of Silje and her cousin Nils came through in how they competed with each other throughout their childhood, yet how Nils was on Silje’s side when danger threatened both of them. In the end, it is the author’s decision to decide what readers might like or will tolerate. It can be a tough decision.
Reviewers tell me truly what they think!
The critiques on Goodreads.com of my second novel in this series God’s Child: Unraveling are harsher, and perhaps, rightly so. Here is one:
Overall I enjoyed this book, I’ve always found kidnapping cases fascinating, but there were a few things that disappointed me. Upon reading the synopsis it appears as if Silje is suffering from possibly a psychotic break or maybe there’s a type if supernatural element going on, I personally felt that the book didn’t touch upon this at all apart from one scene in the woods. Whilst it was interesting reading a book about kidnappings from an outsiders point of view I feel as if the book could have been improved it was perhaps told from the point of view of one of the kidnapping victims. Thus allowing the reader to see what really happened behind closed doors. I was slightly disappointed with the fact that the kidnapping storyline didn’t actually feel like the main focus of the story, the reader spends a lot of the time reading about Silje’s social, family & school life. After finishing the book I felt content with its ending although there were a lot of unanswered questions and I felt as if I waited for a dramatic climax that never happened. I’d recommend this book for someone looking for a quick read with a simple plot.
Am I attempting too much? I will listen and consider all of the points that this reviewer makes when I write my next book in the series, because what I need to ask myself is this:
Can the over-arching theme of the series be presented in bits and pieces progressively leading to the climactic end of the series. Maybe it can, and maybe it can’t. Separate and apart from the fictional crimes in each novel which are there to move the stories forward, are the two themes of 1) a person who struggles with physical and mental phenomena and simultaneously 2) struggles with whether or not Christianity is truly of God.
Will readers like the stories enough to read subsequent ones as they are published? Another consideration is that I’m not the youngest of authors. Will I live long enough to see this series to its conclusion. Only time will tell on that one, I guess. . . . In the meantime, I’m researching fundamentalism to see if it will work into the story of Silje as a student nurse learning to work with doctors, patients, and her fellow students in the environment of a large city non-teaching hospital in the 1950s.